Missouri’s Conservation director heads back to the farm at the beginning of next year, after 32 years with the department.
State Conservation Director John Hoskins has announced he will retire January 15th, 32 years after he began his career as a conservation agent. The Conservation Commission hired him as director in 2002, asked to preside over what he calls a unique and special system, supported by an eighth cent sales tax.
"That has made Missouri special. It has made it different. It’s made it very progressive," Hoskins tells the Missourinet. "Missouri’s program is the envy of the nation and rightly so."
Hoskins began his work with the Conservation Department the year the conservation sales tax began. Voters had approved the tax in 1976. The state began collecting the tax the next year. Hoskins began his career in 1977 as well.
Hoskins says the designated funding has allowed the commission to look long-term to the benefit of Missouri. It is a sales tax, though, and Hoskins has been disappointed by the flat returns since he has been director, returns that actually shrunk the past two years, holding back capital projects. Two new nature centers opened under his watch, one Cape Girardeau and another in Winona. A new regional office opened in Kirksville.
More could have been done, but sales tax revenue has dropped sharply. During the 2006 Fiscal Year, the conservation sales tax generated just shy of $100 million. The next year, the tax would reach $103 million. It hasn’t hit that high since, falling to $96 million the past fiscal year where it is expected to stay this fiscal year.
He will complete 7 ½ years as director when he retires.
"I loved it. I really have loved it," Hoskins says. "There’s challenging days, but there’s so many gratifying moments that overcome that. It’s been great."
Hoskins plans to retire with his wife Janet at their farm in Carter County, near Van Buren, the farm on which he grew up.